Emmanuel 

First featured on ourwordscollaborativ.com day 19 💛

Christmas movies are my favorite. I love to sit down and put on a movie full or festive times, snowy days, and holiday cheer. 

As I’m writing this I am watching the movie the Nativity. There’s this part in the movie when a woman that Mary was working for had several children around and she is talking about the time when Elijah was hiding in the cave in 1 Kings 19. Though Elijah had just faced a great victory; lies and threats reached his ears that made him feel alone. Threatened. Scared. So what did he do? The same thing most of us do when we feel like the world, even God, is against us. He hid. He went in a cave and hid. God tried to get Elijah to stop hiding and remember that He was on his side and what He’s done for Elijah. He called Elijah out of the cave. While Elijah was on the mountain side huge winds began to whip around him. If I was Elijah I would have thought that maybe the winds were God. Maybe He was trying to physically pick me up and put me back where He wanted. Forcing me to face my fears. But the Lord was not in the wind. A fire began to fall around Elijah. If I was him I would have thought God was trying to scare me away from where I was hiding. Maybe I would choose to move back to where God wanted me, out of fear. But the Lord was not in the fire. Lastly, the earth began to shake. The ground opened up and rocks cracked all around Elijah. If I was Elijah I would have thought that God was done. That He was just going to allow the Earth to swallow me up and move onto the next person that would obey Him. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. So where was He? He said He was going to come. 
I can picture Elijah being weary. Tired. Emotionally drained. The dust around him settles. Things come to a calm. Just then a small, gentle voice speaks. It was Him. 
Isn’t that beautiful. The stillness. The small. God loves to be unconventional. 
This past November we as a family made it through the first anniversary without my dad and grandpa. They both were taken from us by cancer within days of each other the year before. It was hard. People often ask how I got through it. Truth is the threats and lies are all too familiar for me. The winds have whipped, the fire has scorched, and the earth has shaken. The answer is found in a simple identity. 
Emmanuel 
Jesus has many names to describe all that He is. Emmanuel means God with us. When Jesus came down He was with us. He walked with us, yes but He went through life as a human. Meaning He knows what we are facing and He knows how to get through it; successfully! This is huge when we are facing the grief and corruption that life brings. When our close people die; He is with us. When our families are being torn apart; He’s with us. When life hands you lies, threats, and accusations; He knows what is feels like and He knows how to get out of it. Even when the anxieties and depression hits; He hasn’t left. He’s right there with you, guiding you. 
Too often we choose to look to God like the people in the Old Testament. Questioning if it’s God that is in the winds that whip around us. Questioning if He is in the fire that burns all around. Wondering if He’s shaking the earth to get your attention. But forgetting He’s in that still small voice in you. Forgetting He’s in the gift of the Word He gave us. 
Through all of the hustle and bustle take a moment and sit. I don’t know what memories you have of Christmas time or what this past year alone has brought you, but you have made it. A friend of mine recently sent me a picture that said, “You have survived 100% of your worse days.” How true is that? You are here, right now reading this blog. You are breathing. That means you are meant for something grand. I know the feeling of not knowing how or if I would make it through the end of the day. I know the feeling of anxiety and depression holding me down, creating a whirlwind around me. But I made it. Not through the worlds remedies, but through my God. He led me through. Dear friend, God is with you. I don’t know why life has handed you the things it has or hasn’t handed you what you want but I know that He is with you. He has you. And you’re not going to just get through these times but you’ll get through them victoriously because He is with you. 

Dear Monique,

Dear Monique,

I hope today you see that you can do anything. I hope you see that the things that make you feel afraid, dont need to hold you back. I hope you see, that God speaks to you. That you don’t just randomly have thoughts, but God drops things in your heart, that are bigger than the words you have to say. I hope you see that you can speak to a large body of people. I hope today you realize that even in the darkest days, you know where your anchor holds. I hope you realize that God has had you

I hope today you realize that even in the darkest days, you know where your anchor holds. I hope you realize that God has had you since the beginning of time. I hope you realize that He has you now in this moment. That He cares about every single part of your heart. I hope you realize that His timing is the best. It’s sudden. It’s bigger than you could ask think or imagine. I hope you realize that your life is not unscripted. It’s written, planned out. Thoughtfully considered.

I hope today you know that you are loved. I hope you know that the Creator of the Universe loves you so much. I hope you know that you are surrounded by people who love you. People who see the soul of who you hope to be. I hope you know that you are becoming her. You are. The qualities you hope to possess are vibrantly blooming.

Dear Monique,

I hope you stay faithful. I hope your heart continues to burn when the wrong thing happens. I hope it continues to scream because of the injustices. I hope your heart continues you push you to keep going, to make that difference you so desperately desire. I hope you choose to keep fear out of your mind. I hope you keep chasing perspectives. I hope you keep speaking hope. I hope you choose to be everything that your Father has called you to be. Go after those dreams. Don’t be mediocre. Don’t give up. Keep fighting. You are enough. You have enough. Always give enough.

Love,

Me

Make America Great Again?

I wasnt going to post anything about the recent election, but I found myself in a church in LA today and what the pastor said really got me thinking. Before you stop reading, know that you will not find who I voted for and how you should have done the same thing. You wont find my opinion on the rising issues and what I “know” will fix them.
What you will find is a view that I have not seen before and it starts years ago. It starts in a nation that was in turmoil. One of their advisors were dying and the two that were the potentials of taking his place were corrupt. The nation had lost it’s hope. The ones they were supposed to  trust in were corrupt.
They were lost and abandoned.
Or was that just their perspective?
Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 1 Samuel 8:3-6
There are 2 sides to every coin and two parts to every story.
“7And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them8According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8:7-9
Why was God upset? Everyone else had a leader to trust in and be guided by.
God was upset because He was supposed to be their leader. The one they trusted in. The one that guided them. But God, being a God of love and allowing His people to make choices even if it will hurt themselves and Him, He gave them their way.
10So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves18And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:10-18
Hmm sound familiar?
Just in case let’s break it down:
Take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horseman and to run before his chariots. Didn’t the Israelites want a king so that the king would go before them and fight for them? Another question. Isn’t that what God says He does for us?  Ok, I am going back. God is telling them this king will make them fight for him. He won’t protect them but he will use their sons to fight for him.
he will appoint for himself commanders. The king is the one that will pick the commanders, not  you.
some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.; He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. You will work for his government and will give to him what you work for.
will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants…The king will also take a part of your earnings. In modern day terms TAXES. Also, it’s important to remember that God already asked for a tenth, so now we are to tithe and give the leadership what they demand. Just tithing would’ve been better huh?
Here’s my point:
I find it odd that we celebrate and argue until we break down the souls of people over a human leader when God didn’t want a human leader at all. The original design EVEN after the fall was that God would lead the people, yet the people demanded a king.  God wanted to go before His people, protect them. He wanted to guide them. To judge them with His truth and mercy. But even after being warned of all this would bring they chose a person over the creator.
And here we are today.
 
I think we are still doing the same thing when we put our hope and fears in the Oval Office. The true fix to our problems is not found on this side of Heaven. In fact, the problems we so often complain about are a result of us wanting a human leader. They are the result of trusting in a man over God. So maybe just maybe our problem is humanity and our need to ignore God and pursue our ways. Maybe we don’t need to put our hope, fear, trust, or anything in people. But in God. Be hopeful because the cliche is true, the best leader is still on the throne and while we will continue to live through the repercussions of demanding a human leader we won’t have to stay here for eternity. There is better. 
Just a thought.

8:28 

When people hear about what 2015 looked like for me and my family I usually get one response. “Oh my gosh. You lost both of them? So close to each other. I’m sorry.” The shock of all that I’ve been through is one thing but the thing that continues to shock me is that I am still here. Today has officially been a year since my dad left this world. 
When I was younger I remember sitting in the various apartments that my mom brother and I shared. Every night my mom would come home tired from working. We would get our homework done as she would make dinner for us. After eating together at the table, yes we had nightly family meals, we would get ready for bed and my mom would read us a devotional. Before we prayed she would pull out these different color cards that had verses on them that we memorized as a family. 
“Ok guys,” she would start, “what does Romans 8:28 say?” 
“For we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God.”
Those who love God. 
Do I love Him? Like really love Him?
Last year has taught me that I do. Beyond the cute go to church with your family, post worship lyrics, and read the latest christian books type of love; I have found that my roots go deep. I have found that they go farther than the “if I don’t get my way then I am leaving.” Nothing in 2015 went my way. My favorite job, I lost. my best friend; she moved. my mind couldn’t be trusted. Anxiety attacks, nightmares, depression, the whole nine yards. And then November 9th, 2015 hit and boom my dad; dead. 54 hours later my grandpa died too. 
Life was winning 2,000 to 0. I was losing and it felt like I was constantly being kicked in the teeth. but something within me, something peered from the deep sorrows of depression and the chaos of anxiety and told me, there is something more. 
All things Work together for good
All things.
Not just some things. 
All.
Before my dad passed away I remember telling my mom that I knew without a doubt that God could heal him on this earth but I also wasn’t going to put all of my eggs in that basket. For some that may sound like I did not fully trust in God’s ability to heal my dad. Some may look at me and say, Shame on you, you should of prayed harder, agreed with the Bible more, fasted more etc. But truth be told I did fully believe God could and would heal him. In fact I believe my dad got the ultimate healing. The healing of the body soul and mind. The healing that never gets re injured or reminded about the reasons they felt hurt in the first place. I knew that even in the hurt and pain, that this situation fell under the umbrella of all things. All things in my life would make me better if I allowed them. All things that happen to me can positively affect the world around me if I spoke from the right perspective. All things would be made good because I loved Him and more importantly, He loves me. All things. 

When my mom was having us remember verses as children she may not have realized the full picture of what would spark in my life, but as I look back I see that this verse has been a core belief in my mind. Even in the hardest days I have known that God would work something good out of it for me. One of the good things that sparked from losing my dad and my grandpa was me seeking help with anxiety that I faced on a daily basis. From those hard dark months I became so hopeless that I couldn’t hide the fears that paralyzed me anymore. grief has a way of knocking your hands off of the things you tirelessly try to suppress. So I gave in. I chose to be weak, but in reality I found how strong God in me was. 
For we know.
How do you know something? 

How do you really truly know? 

Through reading? maybe. 

But the things you truly know are the things you have experienced or keep experiencing.

 I kept experiencing grief last year, but by some miracle I made it through. Was it my strength? Not at all. It couldn’t have been. I felt like an unpredictable ball of fear and turmoil. One night I woke up out of a dead sleep because my heart was racing so fast. I put on my Apple Watch to check my pulse and the numbers read 187 bmp. 187. I rarely reach that when I am running. But this was a regular thing for me during this time. Anxiety attacks and lack of motivation were real demons that I fought relentlessly. Why? During this time I didn’t know. But as I look back I see that everyday I didn’t think I would make it to the next day, I would pray begging God to just take me too. Yet I was still on Earth. Because of Him. He is the one that orders my footsteps. And He stayed with me through it all. He brought friends to my side, songs to my mind, and pictures to my eyes. He was constantly reminded me of His presence. And because of this dark time I can now say I know. 
My story about my dad has been something that has gone beyond me. It has carefully found it’s way to other ears of sons and daughters hurting with pain from the choices their parents have made. It has found it’s way into the hearts and minds of those wondering if things will ever change. It has found it’s way and nestled a seed of hope for those hurting souls. Not because of me, but because of God. He has made the good come through this mess. He will continue to make good come from the messes we humans make. That’s why I can not be paralyzed because of an election, diagnoses, lost job or relationship. 
2015 was a hard year. But even in the lose I have found the things I gained. An even closer relationship with my best friend. Freedom to think and speak up and work and live without anxiety. Happiness in life. Joy in the mourning. And most importantly hope for the future where I will get to praise my God with my dad by my side.
Dear Sojourner,
Come to know that all things will work together for the good of those who love God. He has you. He loves you. Trust Him. 
Love Mo

Dream

Such a good post from an incredible writer! 💛

Beloved By Amy

Dear Beloved Readers,

Once Upon a time I wanted to write a novel, more specifically a romance novel because when this epiphany came to me I was obsessed with Twilight. I remembering thinking, heck I can do this. Of course that dream disappeared because I realized that I didn’t even understand the concept of love and romance; and let’s be real I didn’t have my first love encounter till I was 22. So what the heck would I be able to write about? Anyways the dream came and went but my dream to write was always there. At one point I was obsessed and wrote a journal of short stories and random commentaries about my life. At this point in my life I was reading nonstop journals/memoirs by David Sedaris and loved his quick sarcastic humor. He also spend a lot of time talking about his own personal life experience…

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Dear Dad, 

I remember sitting on the phone with you and thinking, this is it. This is the last time I’ll hear your voice. I took a screen shot of our call. And when we were done the empty feeling became bigger. 

A year later I regret not calling more. I wish I called later that day and the next day and the days to follow. But you were taken so fast. While you were slipping away grandpa was too. Going from care home back to our home. Seeing him so lively and almost normal one day to sleeping all day the next was hard. But I wish I made time in those 18days to still talk. To still call. I never knew that I’d miss your voice so much. 

I look back and see how hard it was to simply breathe. While my own anxieties consumed me and the grief of so much tried to destroy me there was a hope I held onto. Thank you for reminding me of that hope. Thank you for choosing life in the midst of death. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to beyond this life. Dad I always thank mom for introducing me to Jesus, now I can thank you for helping me to keep following Him no matter what. I thank you for showing me that it’s the right thing to love family even when it feels hopeless. You taught me how to love unconditionally. How to do hard things even when people don’t deserve it. To stay close to God even when the promise hasn’t happened. 

I went to counseling for a while after you passed. I learned how to give my anxiety to God. This past week I went back and just talked. I asked my counselor why I don’t miss you more. I feel like I should still be crying and mourning your loss. But He said something that I’ll hold onto. He reminded me that I worked through the bad feelings I still had towards you. But now the good is left. And to enjoy those memories. 

So I will. 
I’ll enjoy remembering the nicknames you called me. I’ll enjoy remembering us talking about ducks and turtles. I’ll enjoy remembering you introducing us to your boss and taking us to that Amish place with the good desserts. I’ll remember us walking and finding the Peter Pan dolphin and seeing king Neptune. I’ll remember the hugs and the tears that we shared when we saw each other. I’ll remember you telling me how you pray for me and how you told me you love Jesus. I’ll remember you dad. 

So for those days that have passed know that I love you. Know that I’m proud to be your daughter. Know that I wouldn’t trade our story for the world. Know that what you left behind is and will be carried on. Know that you’ve helped make my heart into a garden of trust and love. I’ll keep tending to it. 

I love you Dad. 

When Hopes Get Shattered 

I wrote this, this past summer after realizing that I had to let of a relationship. I hope that if you’re single that this posts give you hope and reminds you to trust our God. Love you friends 💛


After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:1-6

A few years back I found myself in the face of yet another moment of rejection. I remember just feeling like hopes were once again shattered and dreams would never come true. It was utterly depressing.

I walked into my friend’s office  and he looked at me and said, “Monique you need to go somewhere and just be with God.”

And he was right.

He told me that he didn’t want to see me until the weekend was over.  So the next day I hopped in my little Hyundai and drove 45 minutes to this  State Park. I didn’t really have a plan except for to read my Bible and journal. When I got there it was cold and I was alone in the middle of trees and lizards and bugs.

So I wrote and I talked to God I gave my heart and my desires.

God met me there.

I asked Him how I was going to get through this. I asked Him why there were things that I believed that He was giving me only to take them away. Why people chose to be passive with my heart?  Why relationships weren’t the way that I wanted them? I got down to the root of even questioning why I had to constantly face rejection and why this is something that I was born into.

He reminded me of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham had been promised a son and even in the moments of him questioning if God was going to fulfill that promise there were times when he decided to take it into his own hands, like I had also done.

“2And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.” Genesis 16:2-4

But God was still faithful.

God still is faithful.

“1The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. 2And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him.” Genesis 21:1-2

God still gave him his son Isaac.

He fulfilled his promises.

But later He asked Abraham to do the unthinkable.

 “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis22:1-2

To sacrifice the very thing that He had promised him. To let go of the very thing that Abraham wanted the most.

I felt like God was asking me to do the same thing. To bind the very thing I have desired since I was a little girl and offer it as a sacrifice to Him.

So I picked up a stick. And for the longest time that stick stayed in my car.  I chose to believe that if God asked me to sacrifice and to let go of the very thing that I wanted most; not only that I wanted but the very thing that I believed He had promised , that I would choose to do that because I love God more.

Today I found myself at almost the same exact situation.  Projected hopes shattered, dreams and expectations not met, falling in love with the idea of a relationship but turning a blind eye to the reality of the relationship. To be honest it was a place where I put myself. 

No one to blame. 

Just me running ahead of God.

And so I went to go clear my mind. I went and traveled. I chose to do something that I love and hopefully get close to God.

As I was heading home I decided that I would stop at that park again and sit down and journal. I didn’t expect God to give me anything about this season that I’m in but more so I chose to work on dreams that were in my control right now.

But He still met me there.

As I was walking to my car I felt like I should go back to the spot where I had sat down and picked up a stick. 

So I did.

I felt a gentle prompting to remember what I did then and to do it again. So I  picked up a stick and once again He reminded me of Abraham and Isaac.

I rolled my eyes and told Him, “I know God. I need to sacrifice this desire again.”

Before I could continue, a different question hit my soul. 

 What happens when your Isaac?

 What happens when it feels like he’s binding you to sticks and raising a knife over your heart? What happens and it feels like He’s killing everything inside of you? What happens when you don’t feel like He’s being good to you yet everyone else is getting the very thing you desire?  Do you trust him?

 I’ve  never realized the perspective of Isaac before today. There are so many moments  when He’s doing things that feel like rejection but in those moments we have to choose to trust the heart of the Father. Isaac knew that his father loved him very much. Yet I wonder what questions ran through his head as he was being laid on the altar. I wonder what things he started to  remember about his father.  I wonder if he questioned  his father’s love for him. Why would he sit there and sacrifice his son to a God? But in Abraham’s trust in God and Isaac’s trust in his father God provided. The promise was still fulfilled. Isaac didn’t die that day.

So here I am driving home realizing that I can trust the heart of my Father. Realizing that even in the seasons where it feels like He has ripped everything away and the promise still hasn’t come, I can surrender myself to Him. I can choose to lay myself on the altar knowing that there are going to be things that He cuts away from me to make me better. Even while I’m in the fire He’s not allowing me to be burned but He’s allowing me to be refined.  To be able to scrape away the impurities that have settled in my heart for too long.

Dear Sojourner,

I know that when promises aren’t fulfilled the enemy is right there to speak lies of rejection. I know that sometimes it feels like God doesn’t care. But even in rejection, even in praying for unfulfilled promises choose to look back. To see how far He has brought you. And with that perspective you can choose to trust Him no matter what. Know that even in rejection God is thinking about your protection. 

💛

Mo 

Search My Heart

There’s so many answers offered when you ask the question why not?

For someone who is an over thinker (like I am) the endless solutions create anxiety self doubt and criticism in my mind. I’m not enough is a normal voice that sounds off. Believing I must do more or lose more then the desires of my heart will come. But what happens when you’ve done all you can do and there’s no hint of the desire fulfilled?

What happens when you’ve served and sacrificed yet things end?

What happens when you’ve given God your all, stayed faithful and instead of gaining relationships you lose them?

What usually happens for me is criticism. I begin to analyze and dissect the motives of my heart until there’s nothing left to show. Until my heart and mind are reduced to puddles on the floor. I rehash and replay looking for every ounce of bad that was in me. Looking for why God has rejected me from the chosen ones that get what I desire.

Criticism has taken me to some dark places because it has been rooted in fear.

For too long I’ve believed that I must criticize myself relentlessly instead of trusting God. I’ve believed that He asks me to examine my heart and mind, but today I felt like He was asking me, “Monique, did I ask you to search your own heart, or is that My job?”

To be completely honest I don’t know the Bible cover to cover to say that we are not to look at our hearts and make changes but heres what I have searched and found so far.

In Psalm 139 David talks about how God knows him intricately, fully. To remember that God is always with us even to the point of knowing and being where we are when we try to run and hide from Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. David realizes this and ends his prayer with

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

Then in Jeremiah we read that God tells the prophet that no one can understand the heart except Him,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind…” Jeremiah 17:9

I think there is a lot we can learn from these two passages. In Psalms we see that David humbled himself and asked God to do the searching. To try his thoughts and lead him in the right way. I think when we see that God is the one that searches our hearts and leads us our response should be to trust His leading. To lean on His understanding because He knows better than we do.

In Jeremiah God says that He is the one who examines and tests the heart and mind. He looks at our motives and does something about them. What does He do? I believe that He will bring things up to our minds about the way we think or the motives we have, not to shame us, but to show us a better way.

God has given us His Spirit. I think too often I believe that God is frustrated with me and has left me to figure out my own motives. Like we are playing this awful game of guessing if my motives were wrong and which motives were bad or worse or good and pure. I sit back and judge myself over and over and over again. But I am starting to believe that He hasn’t called us to do that. The Holy Spirit is the one who is in us and He will show us what we need to work on. Thats what conviction is. Its simply seeing that we sinned because He shows us, we repent and humble ourselves, ask Him where to go and go.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

God is in the business of exchanging. He wants to always take the old ugly mindsets and exchange them for something better. Instead of dissecting I need to ask Him to do the searching. But we can’t exchange the things that are ugly for new things unless we go to Him. He’s not asking us to clean ourselves up first. If so, Jesus’ death would have been pointless. He’s calling us to come just as we are. Messy. Broken. Hurt. Not even sure of what we really want. And in His hands He is holding a new heart.

He wants to give us new heart.

I need to remember to ask for a new heart more often instead of dissecting mine. To allow Him to clean and make it whole again. I need to believe more about the competence of God instead of the capability of myself. I need  to trade my scape for a sword. Not just any sword but the sword of the Spirit. The word of God. Thats where I learn to know Him and His character. From there the Holy Spirit can do His job and show me the things I need to work on in the moment. From there I can lean and trust on His understanding as He sets my path straight.

Dear Sojourners,

As you go through your journey I hope that the Holy Spirit’s voice becomes the voice you listen to more than your mentor, leader, pastor, author, parent etc. I hope you choose to elevate what He is saying above what circumstances say. I hope that you find yourself seeking His will above your own. And in the times when it’s tough, choose to humble yourself and ask Him to search your heart and give you a new heart towards that person or circumstance. Remember dear friends, He has you. He loves you.

Keep journeying dear friends. Until next time,

Mo

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Constant Surrender

Want to know what’s really hard? being all there.
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”‭‭ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭MSG‬

In life we go through times of fog. Seasons of not understating the circumstances we are facing. When I can’t see through this fog I find it easy to run to my imagination to escape the lack of knowing and create a world where I can control. Fantasy.

I was talking to my best friend last week about the difference between fantasy and dreaming. She was sharing how she believes that God created us as dreamers yet we settle to live in fantasy.

Fantasy arises when we don’t like reality so we create a world in our mind that feels better but isn’t because it’s not real. Dreams are things that too start in the imagination but are achievable. They are things you can put action to. Things you can choose to do.

Right now the circumstance I want to escape from is singleness. I know, I know you’re probably  thinking, “Really? Our nation is going down, people are dying, being sold as sex slaves, abuse is at an all time high, there are bigger things to want to escape from! And you’re biggest struggle is being single?!” Okay you might not be thinking that but the voice of criticism in me says that daily.

I’ve been wrestling with the belief that God doesn’t want to give me marriage. I think that He looks down at me as I struggle and sometimes (especially recently) grieve the fact that I don’t have that life long best friend to come home to. To dream with. To serve God beside. To just be with. I think God is once again up there throwing His hands in the air saying, “Really, Monique?”

But then I look at the choices I have made over the past 7 years. Choices of getting emotionally healthy, saying no to guys I know aren’t worth my time, and removing my heart from situations that cause hope to fade. I see people choosing to live in unhealth yet have the thing I want most.

So why am I desiring marriage if I feel that God is against me?  Why have I chosen to do these things? Because I dream of having a GREAT marriage. I dream of being married to the same man for the rest of my life. I dream of us serving God relentlessly together. I dream of our story inspiring those around us and seeing the God within us constantly working in and through us. I dream of those things so I choose to achieve those things.

And God put that in me. So He’s not against that dream.

He created the unique desire for me to be a wife. He sculpted and molded my very DNA with that desire. Not matter how many marriages I’ve seen ripped apart by addictions, affairs, petty drama, I still believe in marriage. I still believe that it is possible to have a marriage where a man and a woman are pursuing God together. I choose to believe that. And if God put it in me I believe He has it for me.

As I was talking to God about this, I felt Him saying that we need to stop treating singleness as if its a problem that needs to be fixed and look at it as what it is. A season to enjoy. People have told me that it’s when they stop looking their spouse comes. Or when they started pursuing God 100%, but often times that’s discouraging. Why? Because I’ve done those things and he’s still not here. I’ve served and pursued. I’ve taken seasons of not focusing on marriage or “looking”.

So where does that leave me? Where does that leave you?

It leaves us to surrender it to Him constantly.

Surrender comes when we choose to trust that God put the strong desire to be married in our heart when He made us, and trusting His timing to bring it when He wants to.

It’s found in the belief that He won’t put something in us that He’s not going to provide for, grow, and ultimately use for His Kingdom.

Surrender is found in laying down our agendas for someone else’s journey.

Surrender is found in letting go of building someone up in our heads to make us feel better.

Surrender is found in allowing God to continue to use us.

Surrender is found in not doing things (leading someone on, texting them, talking about them to your friends, etc) simply because we’re lonely and want to feel better about ourselves.

Dear Sojourner,

To those that are in hopes of finding that person to walk along side you, trust God. I’m not going to tell you those little cliche things because frankly I am tired of hearing them myself. But at the end of the day what people mean when they say those things is to trust Him. Building trust in Him is the best thing you can do in e v e r y season. Marriage will not satisfy every part of us. We will still need God. Instead of over focusing on the things you don’t have in this season choose to see things from the perspective of what you do have. If you have people in your life that are married ask them questions don’t feel disqualified because someone isn’t in your life. Marriage isn’t arrival. It is a season.

To those that are married, can I give you some advice? Pray for the singles around you. Share your journey with them. Show them things they can do now that will prepare them to be the best spouse they can be. But don’t forget how it felt when you too wanted that person by your side. Sometimes we make things feel small and forget how big the struggle was for us. Don’t shrink the feelings down but encourage those around you to trust God and see things from a new perspective.

No matter where you are on the relationship spectrum, trusting in Him and seeing His faithful character is a common thread in life. And one day we will look back and see that even in the fog He was there. Even in the fog He was leading us closer to Him. Through every season, circumstance, joy and trial He is doing something to bring you to a closer understanding of who He is and that dear friends is worth it all.

Keep journeying.

Adventure Awaits

Sometimes adventure is found in the waiting. 

In the times where answers are not clear and passions continue to burn.

It’s found in the choice of writing one more line even when you don’t feel enough.

It’s found in the letting go of expectations, daydreams, pressures you put on yourself and others.

It’s found in the trusting.
Adventure doesn’t always look like mountains to climb or new places and new faces.
Sometimes it’s found in the staying instead of leaving. 

Sometimes it’s simply in the waiting. 
Adventure isn’t always found in the random times full of new experiences. It is always found when a journey takes you to places where your perspective can’t stay the same. 

Truth is we are all on a grand adventure called life. It may not have billions of Instagram post worthy moments that cause thousands to follow you but your life should never be compared to those around you. Your life is just that. YOURS. 

So celebrate because you made it to the gym. 

Celebrate because you chose healthy relationships. 

Celebrate because you haven’t gone down the same negative cycles that those before you are stuck in. 

Celebrate because you are fully and perfectly loved by the being who created love itself. 

Take the pressure off. Your dreams will happen. 

Take the pressure off. You’re not alone. 

Take the pressure off. That person won’t satisfy you. But God will. 

Seek after His heart and I promise you your perspectives will change and you’ll find yourself living the abundant life He promised. 

Dear Christians,

“May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!”‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:3-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

In this last week so much has happened that has been utterly heart breaking. The fact that people have lost their lives is hard. We are seeing senseless acts of killing. People traveling to kill others. Lives ending too soon. A child dying  because of a freak accident. It’s a hard time. 

Sadly the hardest part of this time is the lack of empathy for each other. This week has proven that we have become a culture of judgement and judgement is breeding hate. 

May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all.

I was recently listening to a series by Jennie Allen called chase. She was talking about how we all have sinned. And it’s not ever about how bad the sin is but it’s always about the worth and value of the one we’ve offended. 

If you lie to your mom you might get in trouble but the consequences for lying to your mom verses lying to the court are completely different because the court holds a higher authority. The same is with God. When we lie or choose to say rude and mean things we are offending the Creator of this world. When we choose to look at pornography, sleep around, _______ (fill in the blank with the sins that you don’t want to talk about) we are offending the same creator. 

Maturity is marked by how well we love and get along with all people. To believe that Jesus didn’t love people that were not clean in the eyes of the religious people is to not believe the true Jesus. Look at the woman at the well, the countless people that He cast demons out of, the woman caught in the act of adultry. He loved them. He knew the timing that they needed truth. He knew when to call them up. But first He loved. 

He’s done the same for you. He chose to create you knowing that you’d mess up. But too often we label sins higher or uglier than each other. The truth is there is no level of sin. Sin is sin. It’s all the same. 

Maturity is marked by how much you love not how much you know. Maturity is marked by how much you allow God to move in your heart not how much you tell others what they need to do. Maturity is found in asking God what He wants us to say not what our flesh wants to spew. 

In this time we as Christians need to take a second. Shut our mouths. And allow God to mature us. To move us with compassion. 

Death is death. It hurts. 

Dear Parents that lost your child,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry this world is placing judgement on you. I’m sorry you lost your baby too soon. Don’t blame yourself. You didn’t know the outcome. You’re not a bad parent. 

Dear people that lost loved ones,

God is close to the broken hearted. I’m sorry people say mean things and show you a hateful God. Truth is He loves you. He loved your loved one that was taken away. His love is evident in the fact that He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die for our sins. I pray that you find the loving God that is even now with you. The one who knit you together in your mothers womb. The one who is with you always. 

Dear Christians,

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1-13‬ ‭MSG‬‬

How Will I Get Through This

It’s been 6 months. I didn’t even realize the 9th and 11th passed by this week. Majority of the week I felt strong. But Wednesday something hit. I was losing my strength. 

Higher than the mountains that I face 

Stronger than the power of the grave 

Today we celebrated my grandmas birthday. Her first birthday in 56 years that she celebrated without my grandpa. 56 years. That means the last birthday she had without my grandpa by her side was when she was like 20! 

Constant in the trial and the change 

Cuz this one thing remains. 

What do you do when the things that used to be around are now gone? When the friends ignore you. When the spouse leaves. When the loved one dies. Those that have always been are now a distant memory. 

I’ve shared this story with few people but the night my grandpa passed I had come home about 30 minutes before he died. There was a package waiting for me. When I opened it there sat my new bible I had ordered. I was so excited! But my excitement turned to dread as my grandpa started slipping into the final stages of his life. 

On and on and on and on it goes

It overwhelms and satisfies my soul



I never ever have to be afraid 



This one thing remains



When we went to my grandmas there was complete chaos. Grief was starting as final goodbyes were ending. I sat on the couch with my new bible and said, “God. How? How am I going to get through this?!” 

He simply said, ” through my word.” 

And One Thing Remains started going in my head. 

Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me 

In death in life

I’m confidently covered 

by the power of your great love 

Through his word. He was so right. 

I’m so thankful that in life and death I can be confidently cover by His great love. I’m so thankful that even when all else changes around me the one who holds my heart never changes. 

So today I choose to remember this simple truth. 

My debt is paid 

And there’s nothing that can separate my heart from your great love. 

Dear Soujourner,

I don’t know what may feel dead in your life. Maybe everything around you is changing. Maybe you’re about to make a huge move. Maybe things are absolutely fantastic! Regardless of where you find your self today choose to fix your eyes on the one who remains. The one who is with you always. My prayer for you and me both is that in life and death we’d be confidently covered by the power of His great love. 

Keep journeying. 

Always mo. 

One thing Remains Video 

If He’s Good why’d He let that Happen?

“And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.”‭‭Genesis‬ ‭37:15-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Once again Joseph found himself alone, looking for his brothers. They were never where they were supposed to be. They didn’t do what was right. Once again he found himself wandering. Tired. Frustrated. Isolated. But he still went. He obeyed his father and went to find his brothers. 

This was a daily thing. Joseph was highly favored by his Father Jacob. Joseph was a young man of character. Earlier in Genesis it says, “ Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭37:2-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve read this story a billion times but for the first time it occurred to me that Joseph would see his brothers doing wrong and would go back and tell his father what they did. This isn’t just little brother tattle tales type of thing. Joseph constantly witnessed his brothers doing wrong. I’m stuck on this in all of the best ways. In order for someone to know that people are doing wrong they must know the difference. Not just know the difference but believe in the differences. Joseph had to have seen his brothers neglect the flock, fool around too much or even choose a life of sin and but he didn’t join them. If he joined them his life would’ve been so much easier but instead he chose to be a young man of character. He chose to be hated by his brothers. Not just one of them, no all 10 of them. They didn’t just ignore him, they couldn’t even speak a kind word to him. Ever. But he chose his character. His character was brighter than the coat his father made for him. His character was his most valued possession. 

But his character was also the thing that cost him the most in his life.

I was at a coffee shop with one of my close friends and we were talking about this idea that Joseph would go back and tell on his brothers. As you continue to read this story you find that Joseph’s brothers abandon him into a pit. My friend looks at me and says, “I wonder how many times Joseph felt like he was in a pit before he ever was physically there.”

Mindblown. 

A lot of times we read about these humans in the Bible as if we have no experience being humans. 

When my friend said this I thought about my own battle. Since I was young, character has been something that was constantly instilled in me. When I graduated high school and went on to college the potential of having bad character was always on my mind. It has  caused more sleepless nights and fearful days. My senior year in college didn’t help. I was assigned books to read that were nothing about human depravity. I spent times weeping over the fact that people used their imagination to dream up nightmares. Creating more fear in this already dark world. 

The pit. 

Alone. 

Feeling like there is no one  that had been faced with intense darkness and made it out unscathed. 

I was once told that people have a great potential for good but they have an even greater potential for evil.

The pit. 

How do you get out of the pit without it affecting you?

 Truth is you don’t. 

No one will ever make it out of this world without it affecting them. So the real question is how will you allow it to affect you.  Will you choose to believe you only have the great potential to be evil. You will only be just like your alcoholic mother? Your angry father? Your bitter sister? Your impure past? Just cycle through brokenness? Or will you choose to do what Joseph did?
One of the things Joseph chose was his character. He chose to believe he was fully loved by his father on Earth and his Father in Heaven. He chose his character. 

He chose to obey his father. He went after his brothers. He chose to know what was right and pleasing in God’s sight. He went to Dothan. 

Dothan is mentioned in the bible 2 times. This time in Genesis right before Joseph and again in 2 Kings 6:13 when Elisha and his servant find themselves surrounded by their enemies. In this situation Elisha’s servant is afraid but Elisha is calm. 

“He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.”

‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭6:16-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Here God allowed Elisha and his servant to see that as they walked with God, God protected them to the point of attacking what was attacking them. 

He did the same thing with Joseph. 

“They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.”‭Genesis‬ ‭37:18-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He allowed his brothers to attack him by selling him but He knew that He would attack the very thing that attacked Joseph. God knew that through Joseph’s brothers hate He could save generations. God knew what He put in Joseph was enough. And Joseph trusted God. 

Dear Sojourners,

I dont know what battle you face daily. Whether insecurity floods your heart and mind or fear steals your light. But I know that if you love God, you have an enemy and he hates you. He wants nothing more than to shut you up. He will make the darkness feel more powerful than it is. But there’s two sides to every coin. Know that whatever pit the enemy is setting up for you to be attacked in, God has placed character in you that will only get stronger when you stay connected to Him. He wants to overwhelm what overwhelms you. He wants to demolish what threatened you. He wants to obliterate very lie spoken over and about you. He wants to kill every once of darkness that sets itself up against you. But most importantly He wants the hateful things that have been done or said to you to bring you to Him. His word says that He uses everything for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28). Been abandoned? He will use it for your good. Been abused? He will use it for your good. Been rejected? He will use it for your good. Blatantly sinned? Repent, and He will use it for your good. No matter what. Every pit the enemy has set up whether you chose it or you were pushed into it, God will use it. 

And to that person who said, ” people have a great potential for good but they have an even greater potential for evil.” You are right. We do as people have a great potential for evil; without God. 

How else did Joseph choose his character above avoiding the pit? For that you’ll have to come back next week. Until then keep focused on the One who matters.
❤️ Mo